”The shopping experience has become the most important differentiating factor for retail companies.“
These days, retailers need to offer their customers the best possible customer service as well as ensure a smooth transition between shopping on the Internet and in the store if they want to provide a unique shopping experience and resulting customer retention to ultimately increase sales. Norbert Rickert, Sales Director Central Europe for Motorola Solutions, believes mobile communication solutions will be crucial to increasing interaction between customer and employees and will positively influence the shopping experience.
Norbert Rickert: "Creating a unique shopping experience is crucial."
Mr. Rickert, Motorola Solutions just researched the latest trends in retail in its “Future of Retail” study. Which trends will shape the industry sector in the upcoming years?
With its “Future of Retail” study, Motorola Solutions has studied the latest trends in retail and determined that a unique shopping experience is becoming a significant factor of success for retailers. Almost three-quarters (74 percent) of retailers surveyed during the course of the ”Future of Retail“ study assume that in the future an interactive shopping experience in the store will become pivotal for the business. According to the Motorola study, the following factors will significantly shape the customer shopping experience in the future: networking and interaction with the customer in the shop, the support of store employees through real-time access to information as well as a trend-setting development of IT systems.
What customer wishes and demands can be determined and how have they changed over the past years?
Customers today can buy many items on the Internet. When they enter a store, they want to experience the products live and expect professional service that is tailored to their needs as well as a quick checkout process. While the store will also remain the most important venue for customers in the future, retailers today have to pursue an omni-channel strategy, that meaning to ensure sales through several channels and the smooth transition between shopping on the Internet and in the retail store. This meets the customer need for more flexibility as well as time and spatial independence during shopping.
How about the innovative capacity of retailers? Are new solutions and concepts actually being tested on a large scale?
The ET1 Enterprise Tablet gives staff members on the sales floor mobile access to product information.
Many retailers today already use mobile communication solutions to increase their efficiency and productivity and test out new solutions to position themselves as trendsetters and to meet market trends. This includes new WLAN solutions to be better connected to the customer, the use of mobile communication solutions such as the Motorola ET1 Enterprise Tablet or the Motorola Personal Shopping Solution (PSS) for a speedy checkout. Over the past years, we also recorded an increasing demand for RFID solutions for the fashion-retail sector.
What ways and means do companies have at their disposal to offer customers a unique shopping experience?
To optimize the shopping experience for customers, retail companies have to offer customers a networked shopping environment as well as products that are specifically tailored to their desires. Customers are able to search for product information and information about relevant products thanks to a safe and reliable WLAN network in the store. Customers can also receive buying incentives via shop-related mobile coupons in real-time while they do their shopping. To make real-time access to information possible for employees, Motorola developed solutions such as the ET1 Enterprise Tablet or the Smart Badge for use in the store. Staff members on the sales floor or in the warehouse have mobile access to product and inventory information and are able to share it with the customer.
Many customers see pent-up demand for consulting services and the skills of employees in providing quality of information. How can retailers correct this?
The Motorola MC40 combines features of consumer devices in a device designed for businesses.
According to the ”Future of Retail“study, 41 percent of customers believe that store employees are not sufficiently informed about the inventory status. Thirty-nine percent see a pent-up demand for consulting services and the skills of employees in providing quality of information. Motorola offers retailers a comprehensive portfolio of mobile communication solutions that assist the retail market in facing current and future challenges. This includes mobile communication solutions with which store employees gain real-time access to sales relevant information, compare products, review items and are able to conclude a sale regardless of the means of payment – all this directly at the customer.
Motorola offers sales supporting mPOS solutions such as the mobile payment module, the ET1 Enterprise Tablet and the new pocket size Enterprise Digital Assistant MC40 for this. The compact and easy to use Motorola MC40 combines the well-known features of consumer devices in a device designed for businesses. Store employees can access and display product information and images for customers on the 4 inch touch screen display. The Motorola MC40 can also be used as a mobile point of sale. Purchases can thus be made anywhere on the sales floor directly with the customer. In doing so, fewer sales are lost through aborted sales processes.
What role will mobile shopping play for retailers in your opinion?
The interviewed retail businesses expect sales volumes on stationary checkout counters to decrease by almost a quarter (23 percent) by 2017. They assume that almost half of all transactions will be made via mobile point of sale offers or self-service facilities such as a self-checkout pay station and via mobile devices of customers.
Customers today have to choose from a multitude of paying methods – paying in cash, via credit card or with an NFC-enabled smart phone, to just name a few. Which one do you think will prevail in the next years?
Every one of those paying methods has its benefits. We find that there will not be the “one” dominant solution. All of them – and probably other ones we don’t know about yet – will still be available to the customers on a parallel basis. Today’s customers want to flexibly choose the paying method according to the situation of the purchase and their individual needs. He expects these possibilities to be part of the enhanced shopping experience and customer service. Here also lies a chance for retailers to differentiate themselves and to gain an advantage over their competitors.
Especially bookstores have to suffer greatly from the competition of online retailers, much more than, for example, the sector of consumer electronics. Can you name other specific challenges for special subsectors?
In the future, every subsector will have to deal with competition from the field of online retailers. But this also means a chance for traditional retail to gain an advantage by establishing a smart connection between the shopping experience in stationary retail and their own online shops. The virtual extension of the classical shop offering with establishing online offerings, which can also be extended by a delivery service, provides the customer with the flexibility he needs to fulfill his individual shopping wishes. The boundaries between online and offline offerings will be much more blurred in the future. For example, an online order can be placed from within the shop, in combination with the delivery to the customers home.
Interview by Daniel Stöter,